Road to Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi Off-cycle Governorship Elections


Come November, residents in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi State would hit their polling units to decide their next governors. This election, already scheduled by the electoral commission, is said to be another supremacy battle between the two main opposition parties: All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) always fighting for might. 

In previous Governorship elections that were held on March 18, the ruling APC secured 16 states while PDP only won in nine states with the duo of Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) securing one state each. As many analysts put it, this was a very good outcome for the Abdullahi Adamu led-APC, as the party also won the presidential seat. 

But as the test of might between these two parties shift to Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi state, there have been concerns on whether the ruling APC, now led by the former Governor of Kano, Umar Ganduje is still able to secure these seats for the party or the PDP would do a come back and win these seats. But either way, there are few issues that raise eyebrows as the elections draw nearer. 

Yahya Bello and Dino Melaye at War

Since Yahaya Bello, the current Governor, won’t be on the ballot his anointed candidate, Ahmed Usman Ododo is set to battle the candidate of the PDP, Senator Dino Melaye and 16 others in the race. 

But despite the number of candidates, it is very easy for anyone that knows the nook and crannies of Nigerian politics that the battle is wholly between the ruling APC and the PDP. It is more complicated because Governor Yahya and Melaye were once political allies. 

In fact, in several instances in the past, he had described Yahya as the chosen one for the state and stood against those that don’t want him as Governor of the state. Interestingly, these two allies have now gone from being friends to enemies and Melaye has now become one of the greatest critics of Yahya.

It is not clear why the reasons for their actions against each other but Governor Yahya might be deploying the same political strategy that helped his candidate defeat bigwigs like Senator Smart Adeyemi, Shuaibu Audu and others in the state’s primary elections. Although Melaye seems not to be moved and he is so certain that he is going to emerge at the polls. 

In Bayelsa, a rematch to watchout for

As was the case in 2019, Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State would have to deal with the ambition of Timipre Sylva, a former governor of the state and past Minister of Petroleum Resources, who is the flag bearer of the APC to occupy the government house. 

It is not clear what comeback Sylva would pull but Diri would also be contesting this seat with the candidate of the Labour Party, Udengs Eradiri. Analysts say that LP has a chance of winning looking at the impact of the Obedient Movement and the party during the general elections in February. 

Recall that David Lyon of the APC was the original winner of the 2019 elections in the state but was sacked by the supreme court less than 24 hours to his inauguration over a forgery case submitted against his running mate. While Sylva might be relying on the performance of the party in 2019 to win, the PDP already proved dominance in the state through the result of the presidential elections from the state. 

The three-man race in Imo

Given recent political development in the state, the race for the next landlord of the Imo Government house is becoming more interesting by the day. At the moment, about seventeen political parties have filed candidates for the November elections but analysts say that it is going to be a horse-race only between the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodimma of the APC, Athan Achonu of LP and Samuel Anyanwu of PDP. 

Traditionally, the ruling APC would have only had the PDP to contend with but the just concluded general elections makes that very impossible again. With LP as a third-force to reckon with in the state, the party is not taking it very lightly with the two already dominant parties. Permutations are ongoing and this makes it even more difficult to predict the possible outcome of the elections. 

But despite these realities, the three contenders have all boasted about emerging victoriously in the November poll. Although it is too early to decide, the incumbent Governor seems to have performed above par which earned the ruling APC victory in the state during the February general elections and as well producing two of the three senators representing the state at the upper chamber. If similar tactics can be deployed, the party might also coast to victory in the Governorship poll. 

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